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Back 2020-02-04

MOVISTAR TEAM's Systematic Approach to TT Improvement

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Alejandro Valverde preparing for key moments this season.

MALLORCA, Spain — Patxi Vila, head of performance for MOVISTAR TEAM, prefers the patient approach to making athletes faster. When it comes to developing young riders, he seeks to mold champions and effective pros while avoiding burnout. When it comes to gear, he looks at all factors of performance—aero drag, rolling resistance, tire pressure, and rider position among them. There are no such things as marginal gains, he said. In the ultra-competitive world of pro cycling, even the smallest uptick in speed is a huge deal. Marginal is huge.

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Patxi Vila brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to MOVISTAR.

At MOVISTAR TEAM’s recent camp in Mallorca, Spain, Vila and staff spent two days at the Velòdrom Illes Balears evaluating nine riders for time trial efficiency. This is foundational work for the season, especially this year with the team on new wheels (Zipp) and new components and power (SRAM eTAP AXS with Quarq). For TT, the go-to setup is the Super-9 Discpaired with the 858 NSW front wheel.

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The tests examine crucial factors of speed including rider position, biomechanics, power output, and CdA (coefficient of drag times frontal surface area). Riders warmed up on a road bike and then switched to TT bikes. They took laps wearing leg and arm warmers and road helmets before stripping down to skinsuits and aero helmets. For the testing, they turned laps at 48 to 50 kilometers per hour. “There you will see if the position is good—if they can hold it,” Vila said.

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In search of efficiency.

Alejandro Valverde (Spain) went first followed by teammates including Dario Catalo (Italy), Marc Soler (Spain), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain), and Davide Villella (Italy). Each rider logged laps and spent time on the trainer for further analysis. Between the evaluation sessions, the riders would take short breaks to chat and joke around. “We are just trying to make them faster,” Vila said. “We are creating a good starting point to work on it afterward.”

A new season awaits. The potential for improvement is as bright as the sunshine illuminating the velodrome on that January morning.

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All photos by Brazo de Hierro @brazodehierro

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